Recently, I had an amazing opportunity to speak at the Milwaukee Fatherhood Summit. One of the events I attended was a dinner tribute to grandfathers. It was a very moving ceremony that really made me want to be held in the same high regard as those granddads someday. As I thought about these great African-American men who were holding it down for their families in one way or another and about how my deceased granddad did the same, I began to wonder, what if you could take the best parts of an old school dad and merge them with the best parts of a new school dad. Well if you could make a man two parts old school and two parts new I think he would look like this:
Old School Dad
1) Ready To Die For What They Believe In: Older black men were willing to make sacrifices regardless of the consequences. So many basic rights that we have were purchased with their blood and sweat. Through the civil rights movement, these men challenged the establishment in their cities and states and in some cases death was the consequence. You want to talk about being gangsta? How about being a part of a sit-in where you know you're going to get locked up at best. At worst you might get beat, shot or hung and if that happens most likely nothing will be done about it. Today you have young black men that are willing to die but unfortunately it's for the colors of their bandanas and the neighborhoods where they live. That just doesn't compare.
2) Willing To Do Whatever It Takes to Provide for Their Families: Old school dads embodied this. They would hop trains from Mississippi to Chicago just to look for work. Take a job collecting trash, working the land or whatever everyone else didn't want to do just to make ends meet. In the meantime, they'd be saving up money in order to bring their family to the city for new opportunities and a new future. I've heard this story time and time again from men across this country. These men worked for less chances and less money but did what it took to keep a roof over the heads of their families and food on the table. Nowadays there are a lot of jobs that we feel are beneath us. Well these men didn't see things that way.
New School Dad:
1) Willing To Love You Out Loud: One of the biggest differences between men of today and previous generations is that we've broken out of the strong silent mode when it comes to showing our kids affection. I often hear grown men say how their fathers loved them with their actions but not with their words. New school dads are much more affectionate. Hugs and kisses are not a problem when it comes to today's man and you can find even the toughest looking brother holding his baby boy or girl in his arms and loving them like it's nobody's business. They provide not only financially but mentally, emotionally and psychologically.
2) Being Present and Accounted For: Old school dads were there but new school dads are present. You can find them playing with the kids around the house, reading a book to the little ones, and attending events and activities. Playing with the kids in the park is no biggie either. New school dads have done a good job of transitioning into not just being there but being present in the lives of their children.
Now if you mix the first two parts of old school with the last two parts of new you'll have not just a great father but a great daddy on your hands. A man who's willing to do whatever it takes to provide for his family in every sense of the word. You'll have a daddy who's not just there but present in the lives of his children. He'll be unafraid to show them how much he cares and willing to stand up for what he believes in if it will make their lives better.